One doesn’t have to listen too hard to hear the distant hoof beats if attuned to issues and events of our time in a biblically prophetic way. The horsemen of apocalypse outlined in Revelation chapter 6 are mounted. The world can’t yet see them upon looking across terrain littered with the hills and valleys of everyday life. But the spiritual ear can hear them rumbling beyond the immediacy of these quickly waning days of the age.
The first horseman is riding forward and will be in position to dismount and take over the reins of world government sometime after the disappearance of those who are living at the time of rapture. He will step from his white steed of prestige and promise to sign the covenant of peace that apparently will already be in place. Israel will believe this “prince that shall come,” and sign on to the covenant with the thought that now there will be peace and safety.
The rider on the second horse canters not far behind the self-aggrandizing prince on the first. This rider, on his red horse, will await his time for only a brief moment. Already, he makes noisome saber-rattling that tells us he and his war horse are chomping at the bits to inflict violence upon the earth like that which was present in Noah’s day, during the antediluvian era leading up to the worldwide flood.
Behind the second rider is a skeletal rider beneath a black hood, his fleshless grin foreshadowing his plans for the inhabitants of Planet Earth. The black horse of famine snorts its determination to carry his balances-and-scales-wielding rider to his destination. That destination is the last seven years of human history leading up to the second advent of Jesus Christ. The rider is called famine; his intention is to destroy through starvation.
The not-so-distant hoof beats are heard coming at this generation as an agglomerate rumble of portentous news. We will try to isolate one particular set of thundering, pounding hooves–that of this third rider. Actually, this horse of the apocalypse has within the last few weeks been rather easy to detect.
Some of us who watch and analyze issues and events we think might have prophetic relevance have for years believed that petroleum–particularly oil in the Middle East—might be the catalyst that will bring the world powers to conflict at Armageddon. God himself has said He would put hooks in the jaws of one leader to draw him into the Middle East. He will then, prophecy tells us, bring all nations into the region for the final battle of man’s most horrendous war: “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 3:2).
Petroleum is in the news because of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group’s moving toward the oil fields of Iraq.
Within the past weeks, the likely skyrocketing of oil prices –if Iraq is lost to this group– have brought home the troubling reality that is already affecting the most basic need of man: food supply. Regions of the world such as the Sudan, Ethiopia, and many others have long since heard the rider of the third horse of apocalypse approaching. But, the most blessed nation on earth–in terms of material goods, which includes hosting the bread-basket of the world—can, without listening too carefully, here the black horse’s hoof beats. The beast that will carry its deadly rider of starvation, it seems, has broken from its cantering gait into a gallop.
Stories of the petroleum-based food problems reverberate in the memory from a few years ago, when the world’s top retailer went into crisis mode because of rising oil prices. Top retailer Walmart’s Sam’s Club unit limited the amount of rice individual shoppers could buy at one time, as rice prices hit new records around the world. Walmart sources assured at the time that other commodities were “currently” in no danger of being affected. Despite the attempt at reassurance, however, it was a most profound matter. Only in war time has food been rationed to any extent. Rumbling from the hooves of the black horse of apocalypse might be detectable based upon the conditions from a few years back that have only become more portentous.
U.N. sources consistently warn that the world must urgently increase food production to ease skyrocketing prices. The organization even set up a task force to deal with what they see as an on-going crisis threatening to destabilize developing nations. The cost of food has increased by around 40 percent since mid-2007 worldwide, and the strain has caused riots and protests in countries like Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Haiti and Egypt. A number of years ago, the U.N. put out the warnings of things to come, mentioning their view of solution. “We must make no mistake, the problem is big. If we offer the right aid, the solutions will come,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban K-Moon said at the opening of a five-day U.N. conference on trade and development in Ghana’s capital, Accra. “One thing is certain, the world has consumed more than it has produced over the last three years,” he said. Ban blamed a host of causes for the soaring cost of food, including rising oil prices, the fall of the U.S. dollar and natural disasters (“U.N. chief warns world must urgently increase food production,” www.news.yahoo.com, April 25, 2008).
The secretary general mentioned at that time, but didn’t dwell specifically upon, the rise in oil prices, but blamed, in large part, the dollar’s falling value. Make no mistake, the U.S. currency faces devaluation at some point that will be profound. That devaluation will be linked inextricably to oil in the Middle East.
The black horse and its rider with the balances and scales in his hand will one day be at full gallop upon an incorrigibly wicked world of earth dwellers. From the tide of events inundating the news today, that time cannot be far distant.